Thursday, 20 November 2014

For goodness sake - avoid buses!

The odds of being hit (and killed by a bus) are 13 million to one. This is interesting since people seem to be convinced that this is going to happen to them. When faced with my prognosis, which is around a one in two (worst case) to one in five (best case) chance of not being around in five years, people think I will be reassured by the thought that they may get hit by a bus. Unless the people I know are particularly poor at road safety, it's scant consolation. Conversely, the odds of winning the lottery are one in 14 million, so that's slightly more consoling (although winning the lottery and then being hit by a bus would be most unfortunate). It's so tricky for people to face their mortality, and indeed, that of the people they love, so this helps them to rationalise what is really a horrible prospect to have to think about. When you're faced with these kinds of odds, there are masses of positives - you truly learn to appreciate the people you love, waste less time on silly worries and grasp opportunities you may not have otherwise taken. With cancer, you also get to hear how people truly feel about you, which is wonderful, uplifting and incredibly humbling. So I guess you have to take the rough with the smooth. What I would recommend is telling people that you remain positive about your future, but that it's something you need to come to terms with and deal with in your own way. And perhaps suggest that they look both ways before crossing the road!


Getting hit by a bus outside the Cancer Centre - a statistical nightmare

Recurrence roulette

It's a few days until my first mammogram - almost one year to the day since my diagnosis. With Triple Negative Breast Cancer the chances of recurrence in the first two to three years are pretty high - reports settle on between 20% and 40%, and the prognosis is significantly poorer if it comes back this soon. This is largely because there are few targeted therapies for TNBC, unlike the hormone treatments for other types. So, to me, the mammogram is a bit like having a gun pointed at you with three or four blanks and one or two bullets in it. It's scary. There's also the challenge of being told by well-meaning friends and family to 'be positive' when truthfully there's absolutely nothing you can do to change the outcome. It really is all down to chance. So, what can we do to manage this fear? I've done a lot of work on relaxation techniques, read a lot of books on living for the moment (the Power of Now is a good one, as is anything by Brene Brown) and talked openly with friends. My advice is to talk openly to someone who's had cancer. It's impossible for anyone who hasn't been in your shoes (or bra in this case) to understand how you feel, and friends and family want to say something to help you and don't want to think about losing you themselves, so it's hard to be truly honest with them or for them to be truly honest with you. I think that confronting how you feel and being pragmatic without being 'doom and gloom' is probably the best bet. If it's back, you can deal with it then. If it's not, you can celebrate wildly...until next year!


It's scary, I'm not going to lie

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Warning: your hair might grow back ridiculous

Many people advised that my hair might grow back curly. Others said that it could come back a completely different colour. Few predicted that I would be working a full-on 70s Northern Soul vibe only a few months after treatment. My initial joy to have hair at all has now been replaced by wry confusion at this untameable barnet. I am on my first 'big' holiday after treatment. Having a truly marvellous time. However, my 'hair' has taken on a personality all of its own. Formerly straight with a slight kink and a light mousey colour au naturel, it is now a very dark brown, almost black and almost afro. In the mornings I style it to look as pixie-crop-like as possible. Then throughout the day it grows vertically and curls up on itself until it looks like it belongs to someone else entirely. No-one would suspect that I had cancer only a few months ago, but they were right when they could come back curly. And...most of my eyelashes fell out again annoyingly. I would suggest that you give them about six months or so to recover before subjecting them to too much beautification, and as for the hair..embrace it...or start a 70s tribute act.


What I could look like without 'product'